The artists on this week's list have endearing idiosyncrasies: James Lee Byars' obsession with the perfect atmosphere, Cai Guo-Qiang's spiritual pyromania and Dasha Sishkin's perverse approach to glamour.
5. Clothing-optional fantasies
If Shel Silverstein, who brought the same twisted humor to his children's books that he brought to his Playboy cartoons, had collaborated with stylishly dark Truman Capote, the results might have been something like Dasha Sishkin's paintings at Susan Vielmetter Projects. These crudely glamorous images show topless or bottomless figures with Pinocchio noses and eyes on their behinds immersed in one long, confusing party. 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City; through May 12. (310) 837-2117, vielmetter.com.
4. Wild West paint-out
The California Art Club hosts paint-outs four times a year. Members arrive in public parks or picturesque fields with easels for a day of work en plein air. This Sunday's paint-out will be particularly fantastic. Held at the Autry in Griffith Park, it has a Wild West theme, with live models in period costumes posing playing poker and wearing cowboy hats. Guests can come to paint or watch. 4700 Western Heritage Way; Sun., April 22, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; free. (323) 667-2000, theautry.org.
3. Alien at MOCA
If you stood by on April 7 as artist Cai Guo-Qiang inaugurated his MOCA show by lighting 40,000 rockets, you heard the bang, felt a wave of heat wash over you, then watched embers fall off the side of the Geffen Contemporary. Then you took in what was left: the charred visage of an “alien god” and a series of crop circles on the side of the building. Cai's gunpowder and rocket art gets discussed in terms of spirituality, the unknown, entropy and fear of the bomb. But seeing that cartoonish alien on the side of the building wipes any high-minded ideas away and leaves you with just the memory of pyromaniacal spectacle. 152 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo; through July 30. (213) 626-6222, moca.org.
2. David Bowie and a dog named Felix
Elizabeth Peyton paints what compels her. Often her subjects are iconic: Michelle Obama or Marie Antoinette. Sometimes they're her friends. In her current show at Regen Projects, David Bowie, artist Alex Katz, opera singer Jonas Kaufman and a dog named Felix appear in small, loose oil paintings, hung a good distance from each other. There's no theme and no effort to tie the works together. They're just pictures by someone who's truly interested. 9016 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; through May 12. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com.
1. Nomadic dandy
“I create atmosphere,” said artist James Lee Byars, a dandy and a nomad who lived in Japan and Europe, died in Cairo at age 65 and rarely admitted where in the United States he was born. Legend has it he turned down a show at the Whitney Museum of American Art because he wasn't American enough, and when Guggenheim director Tom Messer talked to him about exhibiting there, the artist insisted the whole museum be painted matte black. “To give Byars a show would be to destroy my museum,” Messer said. “I'll give him a show when he is dead.” While no walls are currently painted at Overduin and Kite gallery, the atmosphere there is spiritual and regal. Marble stars, moons and spheres that Byars sculpted in the late 1980s are encased in glass in one room; in the other, a billowing, ceiling-high, red silk tent houses a tall, gilded throne. 6693 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; through May 12. (323) 464-3600, overduinandkite.com.